Students have had mixed reactions to the Course Absence Report system.
After piloting the system in fall 2012, Penn administrators have brought the CAR system to a wider range of courses.
“It’s a convenient way to notify your instructors if you are going to be absent. And it leaves a trail for the schools’ advising offices,” Dennis DeTurck, dean of the College and professor of mathematics, said. “It provides another way for advisors to detect patterns that indicate whether something might be wrong.”
DeTurck emphasized two important things that will happen with the wider implementation of this new system.
He stated that the old system of going through Student Health Service was largely inefficient. Now, instead of students having to get a note from SHS proving that they are sick, they can simply submit a form on Penn InTouch that notifies their professor immediately of the reason they are absent from class.
In addition, it can help students who are experiencing repeated problems.
“If they’re missing a lot of class it might be a serious problem,” DeTurck said. “The student may not be asking for help but could use it.”
Students simply need to input the date and the professors they want to send the notice to and check the box that applies to their situation.
“In a way, it is like the course problem notice system but in reverse,” DeTurck explained. “If a student is doing poorly or a faculty member has a concern the faculty member will send a notification to the student, which provides a way for the advising offices to nip a problem in the bud before it becomes a crisis.”
French professor Jacqueline Dougherty, who participated in the original CAR pilot system in her French 121 class in the fall, now uses it in both sections of French 212 and French 222 this semester.
“It can work well if the students take the initiative,” Dougherty said. “I have a few students who haven’t used it and one who has — I think once everyone is on the same page it will work really well in terms of the student being able to communicate with the professor.”
However, Dougherty noted that it may not be ideal for every professor.
“I think that for people in my situation where we have relatively smaller classes it can be very effective,” Dougherty said. “I don’t know how a professor in an introductory chemistry or biology class will be able to implement it that effectively though … [because] one might get 10 to 15 of these reports on any given day and that’s a lot to keep track of.”
Although CAR is intended to be easy and simple to use, students held mixed opinions of the new system.
College sophomore Sam Hartman said he liked the new system.
“I think Course Absence Report will work better because students will avoid the hassle of going through SHS,” Hartman said. “It will relieve a lot of the burden on students.”
College sophomore Jeremy Yodh disagreed with Hartman, stating that students will use the new system inappropriately.
“There’s no proof involved. Students can just make up excuses and avoid going to class,” Yodh said. “I do think it’s a hassle to go to SHS or get a note from a doctor, but there should be a better system.”
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